CNN: Blind Dressage Rider Aims to Qualify for Rio

How’s this for Inspiration Friday? CNN published this incredible story on blind dressage rider Verity Smith as part of the network’s Human to Hero series, which celebrates inspiration and achievement in sport. Verity started losing her eyesight at age 8 due to a rare genetic disorder, and she became legally blind by 16. Though she’d ridden as a child, she’d only competed in eventing and show jumping.

“When my eyesight got to the point that show jumping and eventing were becoming a dangerous sport, I decided to look for a really good dressage trainer that could take me on and start me from scratch. I’ve never actually seen dressage being performed. When I could see, I was obviously very interested in all the things that involved speed and obstacles.”

Even though she’d never watched pure dressage before losing her eyesight, she took up the discipline and began competing. “I could be riding a movement in slightly the wrong way, and I would never know,” Verity says in the video. “A lot of riders use mirrors so they can see if the horse is straight, if he’s crossing the legs properly. But I don’t have that. I go purely on feel. That has been a bit of a challenge.” YOU THINK? The chinchillas are in awe.

Verity set a goal to compete in the Paralympics on home soil in London in 2012, but tragedy struck her life again in 2011, preventing her from making it to the Games. You’ll have to watch the video to see all she’s overcome in the past few years. Now Verity is aiming to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, complete with a freestyle set to swing music. What an incredible story.

 [Full story on CNN]

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